EU confident Zambia will sign EPAs
Last year, Zambia refused to sign the EPAs but only initiated and recognised the agreements as the basis for improved trade and export relations between African, Caribbean Pacific countries and Europe.
EU head of delegation in Zambia Derrick Fee said talks on EPA with Zambian trade authorities had continued and were progressing well.
He explained to The Southern Times that limited time of December 2007 had hampered most African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) countries from signing the EPA’S last year.
However, he said this year, both parties had set aside ample time to rigorously discuss the agreements before they are agreed upon and signed this December.
Dr Fee said, at a regional negotiation caucus held last month, both teams from Zambia and the EU had expressed optimism that the country was likely to sign the agreements which it had already initiated and recognised.
“EPAs negotiations are going ahead. Last year we were running against time because we had to sign the agreements by 21 December 2007. We had a regional negotiation caucus here in Lusaka a month ago’the meeting was extremely constructive and so far things are going well. We are still hopeful that we will sign the full documents by the end of this year.”
But the civil society organisations in Zambia have warned that if signed, the EPA’s would have severe devastating effects on the ACP countries.
DPI media strategy coordinator Richard Musauka told Southern Times that there would be no fairness in the agreements ACP countries would have to increase exports of raw materials to the west while importing expensive finished products from the industrialised countries.
He urged developing nations to priotise creation of more employment opportunities by setting up industries, seeing that the export of cheap raw materials would only make job opportunities for the west.
“In practical value, the EPA’s are likely to pose economic exploitation of African, Caribbean pacific countries by the industrialised world due to ACP’s unavailable capacity to offload much for value products onto the world market’ this endangers ACP countries to fail to stabilise their economies, form strong building blocks, like investments in industrial set-up. If ACP countries are expected to benefit fully from the agreements, they should be able to establish economies that could be able to stand fully on their own without being affected by situations on the external global market.”
And Civil Society Trade Network of Zambia national coordinator Saviour Mwamba said although government was in a hurry to conclude the negotiations, a lot needed to be done before sealing the deal with the European commission.